©2018 Kari Carlisle
Scenario: Major disaster strikes. You’ve been putting off that dental cleaning, but who cares? You’re in full crisis survival mode. Only worried about the essentials – water, food, shelter, protection. The immediate crisis peaks. You and your loved ones are safe for the moment. You settle into long-term survival mode. Your supplies are in good shape. You begin to rebuild some semblance of your life and your community. Then one day a piercing pain in your tooth causes you to realize no dentists have survived in your community. Now what?
I know it’s an extreme story, but are you prepared to face the apocalypse with just a toothbrush? How long can you go without seeing someone with dental skills? I just tested that myself.
Okay, I didn’t set out to see how long I could go without seeing a dentist, and I absolutely don’t recommend going as long as I did. I finally just realized how long it had been, and mainly because I live pretty far from any dentists, so I guess you could say I avoided it due to the inconvenience. Oh, yeah, and my lifelong dread of dental work because of my severe case of TMJ dysfunction.
Since my last dentist is a good state away, I started looking for a new one only half a state away. I could have found one a little closer, but as you know if you’ve read my blog posts, I’m into natural and organic, and so, I was looking for a holistic dentist. I found several in the Phoenix area, narrowed my selection to one, and made an appointment.
I’ll tell you a little about my experience, but first I want to cut to the end: I’m looking forward to my next appointment!
My holistic dentist wasn’t very different from any other dentist is most ways. X-rays are required by law, so I got those. The doctor poked around my mouth for a bit, calling out notes to his assistant, and measured the depth of the gaps between my teeth and gums. He offered a treatment plan and sent me off to the hygienist for my cleaning. After the cleaning, I got a little goodie bag with a toothbrush and floss. The receptionist estimated my share of the cost after insurance, and I paid my bill and left, obsessively rubbing my tongue against my newly polished teeth.
Here’s how my appointment differed. As I was waiting, employees greeted patients by name and even with hugs. Once I was escorted to my exam room, the dental assistant began by offering me a homeopathic remedy to help my body deal with the radiation I would be dosed with during the x-rays. As she worked, the assistant chatted with me about her lunch, her family, office politics, and her pending birthday, and she let me join in the conversation rather than keeping my mouth too full of equipment to respond with anything more than grunts.
The doctor came in and immediately started humorously messing with me and his assistant. They both constantly checked to make sure I was comfortable or if I needed a break. Upon being offered a treatment plan, there was no hard sell. No pressure to schedule appointments. The hygienist explained everything she did as she was doing it and told me everything I could expect from smells to sensations. There were products on the counter – herbal toothpastes. Before the standard cleaning, she used a laser to kill harmful bacteria lurking in the plaque buildup.
I was at the dentist for a total of two hours, and despite my anxiety and jaw pain, it was the best dental experience I ever had. Normally, I need a drink before a dental, but because I went alone, that was out of the question. The staff made every effort to put me at ease, and it worked. I don’t dread going back. And best of all? After six, yes, SIX years of no dental work, I have no cavities!
The whole experience got me thinking on the five-hour drive home. How much longer could I have gone without a dental? How long could anyone? Some people have naturally strong teeth and are not prone to cavities. I’m not one of those. I have three crowns and several fillings. I suspect most people are like me. Others are pretty bad off, eventually requiring major work like root canals and dentures. If there were no surviving dentists to take care of our teeth in an apocalypse, the inevitable result would be a lot of missing teeth. Bad tooth? Yank it.
How did I manage to go six years without dental work and get no cavities? Here are my tips for surviving the apocalypse without a dentist:
- Follow recommended cleaning procedures. Brush twice and floss once daily. I’m sure you can easily find instructions online if you need a reminder (or maybe never even received proper instructions).
- Use a soft bristle toothbrush. You don’t need anything harder.
- Here’s where it gets interesting – wait at least 20 minutes after eating before brushing. Your enamel softens after coming into contact with acidic food and drink. Swishing with water before brushing will help harden your enamel. Brushing while your enamel is temporarily softened can wear down the enamel.
- Use natural toothpaste or tooth powder. I make my own tooth powder from a mixture of bentonite clay, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt. I also add a drop or two of tea tree oil to my toothbrush to help kill bacteria.
- Floss after brushing. Brushing can push food particles back between your teeth if you floss first.
- Practice oil pulling. This is an age-old ayurvedic practice that draws harmful bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals from your body through the membrane of your mouth. An internet search will bring up instructions, but the basics are to swish about a teaspoon of oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. I’ve used sesame and currently use coconut. Do this away from a meal. I do it in the evening, long after dinner and after brushing and flossing.
- Eat real food. You thought I was going to say to avoid sugar because sugar causes cavities, didn’t you? Actually, sugar does not cause cavities. A bad diet full of processed food full of artificial ingredients causes cavities. Consider this: butter from grass-fed cows is full of vitamin K which is a wonderful vitamin for oral health. A diet with healthy fats like butter, olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are generally great for your overall health. But I digress…
- Finally, take advantage of dental services while you have them. Do as I say, not as I do.
Are your teeth prepared for an apocalypse? Do you have any tips to add?